Friday, February 21, 2014

CSLA 2014 Conference Highlights

California School Library Association held its annual conference, "Journey to Expertise," at the Bahia Hotel in San Diego February 6 - 9. It was jam packed with an incredible number of informative, inspiring, and entertaining sessions and events. I was involved in planning in a variety of ways, including performing miscellaneous tasks, presenting two awards, and reviewing the last year as Immediate Past President; serving as the advanced registration chair; organizing a Friday night “Unconference” with my friend Marie Slim; and presenting a concurrent session about Twitter with Marie. 

Please see my Mira Costa HS Library blog for some highlights of speakers on Common Core and college readiness. This posting focuses on the Unconference, Marie's and my Twitter session, and author events.


The Unconference was modeled after the one organized by Joyce Valenza and a team of other rock star teacher librarians at the AASL Conference in Hartford last October. With generous permission from Joyce for the plan and Gwyneth Jones for the graphics, I copied and adapted the AASL Unconference agenda and wiki, recruited Marie to be a co-organizer and a team of several other great TLs to help. Visit our wiki here. The point of the evening was to allow everyone to share their good ideas. So often, conference attendees think they don’t have enough to offer to submit a session, or they can’t get one together before the deadline. We all have worthwhile ideas to share; this event allowed for that sharing.

We started the evening off by dividing everyone into three different groups based on a quick poll of topic interests. (There were lots of ideas proposed, but we went with three, which seemed about the right number of groups for the number of people there.) Then, for about a half hour, one group discussed ebooks and how to deal with them, another group discussed how we teach student research and what students really do, and a third learned how to make craft books from Lisa Bishop.

For the next segment, we had a fast-paced Smackdown of ideas. We invited everyone to submit slides to a Google Presentation in advance, but attendees could also share on the spot and we captured their ideas in the slides for future viewing. Do have a look at the embedded slideshow on the unconference wiki or here. The one rule, to keep things moving at a fast pace, was that each presenter had a maximum of two minutes per idea.

And, for the final activity of the evening. We had people “vote on their feet” as to whether they thought an idea rocked or stunk. For example, one of the topics was “should we still teach citation format when there are citation generators?” Interestingly, the room was pretty evenly divided between the people in favor and opposed for almost all the questions. You can see our questions in the embedded slideshow on the wiki or here.

Marie not only recorded the entire Smackdown and part of the rest of the Unconference, she also created a Storify which embeds those videos, tweets, and photos from the evening. So, even if you missed this event, you can still experience a lot of it through this record. We didn't always have screen sharing on when we should have. I learned a lot watching the videos that I will apply next time.

Twitter: "Make Twitter Your #1 Tool for Building a PLN"

Marie Slim and I are both big fans of Twitter, and use it regularly as the key component of our personal learning network to connect with other teacher librarians, classroom teachers, authors, and more. We were excited to have a good turnout at our session, and, more important, got a number of people sold on starting a Twitter account or make more use of an existing account. Here is our presentation file:

Here is a Google+ Hangout video of the session. Since we didn't screen share (I'm a newbie at this recording business, and learning as I go), you will want to watch the Prezi presentation file as you watch this video:

As part of our goal to get more California library folks tweeting, after the session I created a California school librarians Twitter list. Please check it out, and @ me on Twitter if you are a Californian and I missed including you. I'll start following you and add you to the list. Let's make the list grow. As with all public Twitter lists, you can follow it and use it as an easy way of viewing tweets from all the California school librarians without having to follow all of them yourself or create a new list.

Authors, Authors

We had an awesome collection of author panels and events at the conference. Shelley Moore Thomas, our charming CYRM Banquet speaker, enthralled us as she shared with us the serendipity of mistakes and how libraries make magic real. Her parting words to us were "the paths of our lives are filled with mistakes. May you find the magic in yours."

Our closing session speakers were the incredible Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, who together author the Hank Zipzer series. Hank, like Winkler, suffers from learning challenges, and the books help kids deal with such challenges. Here are a couple of my tweets during this session:

As librarians, we need to remember that mission every day!

The author panels also introduced me to some new-to-me authors and books I will want to purchase for my library. 

My Birthday

And, I celebrated my birthday during the conference. What a great place to do it! Here are the lovely flowers my husband sent:
And, a kind tweet and photo from Marie during breakfast that day:

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Blog "Facelift" for 2014

A new year, a new look, name, and URL ....

Yes, I know it is already mid-February, but I am granting myself through the end of this month to address "beginning of a new year" stuff. :-) And, this is "Ski Week" at my school, or, in my case "Catch up with Everything Week." so this is the time ...

I just checked back to see when I created my first blog. It was in 2007, prompted by CSLA's School Library Learning 2.0 tutorial. Soon after that, I began maintaining a personal blog and one for my school library. Then, in Fall of 2009, my school district moved me to the classroom, and I decided to start a new blog, "," to tell about my new experiences being a librarian working in the classroom setting. Definitely the highlight of that "adventure" for me was helping more than 200 language arts and computer exploratory class students I taught that year to create their own blogs, an experience I highly recommend for all students. A year later in August 2010, I moved to my current position as teacher librarian at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. I didn't want to abandon my blog, so I kept the same blog and url but renamed it "TL Back in the Library." Three and a half years later, I have been thinking it is time for a new blog url and title.

So, here's what's new:

  • A new title: "Jane Lofton's School Library Journey"
  • New URL:
  • New banner and template (still a work in progress, isn't everything?)
Here's what's not new:
  • The blog itself. I am still continuing, but please update your links to my new redirect url,
And, FYI, you can also learn about my school library on my school blog at

I hope you like the new banner and look, but please let me know if you have suggestions.

Thanks for visiting! And, Happy New Year! The first image above is from a photo I took of the London Fireworks from St. James Park, with thanks to for the added text. The What's New is from